Family caregivers need help and support, too


August 9, 2011

Millions of Americans are currently caring for aging family members, many of whom are also raising children and holding down jobs. Supporting older relatives can be financially draining, and AARP recently released a new report that shows that the average family caregiver experiences high stress, depression, poor physical heath, lower productivity and a loss of income.

"Family caregivers will say that they feel invisible and that health professionals tend to only talk to them directly when they want something from them," Susan Reinhard, co-author of the AARP report, told the American Medical Association.

Health professionals rarely ask caregivers how they're doing or if they need help understanding the tasks they are given to better care for their loved ones, the report shows. It is important to take the health of caregivers into consideration. If they are unhealthy, they won't be able to properly care for their relatives.

The AMA points out that many older adults require technology and equipment in their homes that caregivers may struggle to operate correctly. One bit of easy-to-use technology that caregivers can purchase is a senior medical alert, which can allow caregivers to monitor their loved ones' activities while they are not with them.